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As the historian Albert van Dantzig points out: 'Nearly all the forts were built with the consent, sometimes at the urgent request, of the local chiefs and people. The forts were built to keep other European traders away and it was on the side of the sea that they had their strongest defence. They greatly added to the castle, using bricks and timber brought from Amsterdam, creating a larger courtyard overlooked by a new range of rooms. They turned the late medieval Portuguese church in the courtyard into a slave market. The merchants and administrators, adherents of the Dutch Reformed Church, had refused to worship where Catholics had prayed before, and built their own chapel in another part of the castle.
Ghana’s slave castle, the only place where God ‘lives’
Cape Coast Castle and Elmina, both well-preserved and the centre of a burgeoning tourist trade, offer another surprise — streets lined with European houses, public buildings and churches dating from the early nineteenth century, and in some cases from the eighteenth century.
But many of the surviving houses are almost derelict, and a wall of one fine merchant's house in Elmina, decorated with arches and columns, collapsed the night before I went to see it. However, like the castles, historic buildings like these are beginning to attract a trickle of funds to save them.
US Aid and Conservation International are helping to fund the restoration of the British Governor's mansion in Cape Coast, and at Elmina the Americans are supporting the 'Save Elmina Association', which offers maintenance grants to owners of historic properties.
Excavations by James Anquandah, professor of archaeology at Ghana University, have revealed the influence of 'castle culture' on the towns in the shadow of their walls from the earliest times. He reports: 'We found pencils and slates, even ink bottles still filled with ink, confirming the existence of schools set up by European missionaries. Metal working was one of many trades taught by the Europeans; we found large quantities of brass objects, marking the beginnings of a jewellery trade.
In Cape Coast Castle, the Smithsonian Institute helped set up a Museum of Slaving which now caters to an increasing number of African Americans - the descendants of slaves who arrive in search of their roots.
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Visitors weep as they come out of the dungeons at Cape Coast Castle, having seen where hundreds of slaves were kept in gloom and damp before the Atlantic crossing to America or the Caribbean islands. The guides take them along a tunnel to what was known as 'the gate of no return'. A narrow slit in the castle wall, only wide enough for one at a time, opened onto the sea, the waiting ships, and another ordeal. Another revelation is the process by which the slaves were acquired.
A year later, the King decided to sell it to the Swedes. After the King died in , the Dutch were finally able to occupy the fort. The Danes had in the meantime established another fort, Fort Frederiksborg , just a few hundred metres east from Carolusborg. Although situated perfectly to launch an attack on Carolusborg, the English capture of Carolusborg during the prelude to the Second Anglo-Dutch War , prevented the Danes from challenging them; the English had reinforced the fort, which they named Cape Coast Castle, to such an extent that even Dutch Admiral Michiel de Ruyter deemed it impossible to conquer.
In , the fort was the site where 54 men of the crew of the pirate Bartholomew Roberts were condemned to death, of whom 52 were hanged and two reprieved. Greenhill Point, a bastion to the east of the castle, was replaced by two new bastions, with a sea gate in the middle. To the south, two new bastions, named Grossle's Bastions, replaced an old round tower as the main defensive work. The tower, which now had no military use, was extended in s with two stories, now becoming the governors' apartments. The space below Grossle's Bastions was used as the new slave dungeons.
Ghana's Slave Castles
In the British governor, Sir Charles MacCarthy , was defeated by the Asante army, committed suicide, and his skull was taken back to the Asante capital Kumasi where it was reportedly used as a drinking cup. They married and traveled back to Cape Coast Castle where, within two months, Landon died of heart failure. Both George and Letitia are buried in the castle courtyard. He also made peace with the Ashanti Treaty of , instituted a judicial system still in use in many African democracies, and encouraged successful and fair trading. The castle, or castle and dungeon, to give it its official name, was first restored in the s by the British Public Works Department.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi makes frequent references to the Castle.
The contrast in living conditions between the Europeans living above and the slaves living below are highlighted in the individual stories of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, during their time at the castle. While Effia lives in luxury, Esi suffers in the squalid living conditions in the dungeons below unbeknownst to her half-sister. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Death sentence for Roberts' crew. Chinese Trad. Czech 1.
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All reviews slave trade cape coast tour guide world heritage site trading post fishing town human history entrance fee men and women sub saharan fort st portuguese castle west ships bracelet ancestors. Review tags are currently only available for English language reviews. Selected filters. Updating list Reviewed August 16, Historic and takes you back to a distant time. Date of experience: August Ask PiaSeverin about Elmina Castle.
Reviewed August 11, Incredibly evocative. Date of experience: July Ask Travelgeek77 about Elmina Castle. Thank Travelgeek Reviewed July 30, A must visit!!
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Date of experience: June Ask KevinW about Elmina Castle. Reviewed July 23, Superb. Ask PotatoMan13 about Elmina Castle. Reviewed July 21, Weekend excursion from Accra. Ask Malek D about Elmina Castle. Thank Malek D. View more reviews.
BBC - Travel - A pilgrimage to Ghana’s slave forts
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